Love Poem for CF

Love Poem for CF
177 1⁄8 x 131 ¼in. (450 x 333.4cm.)
Executed in 2007, this work is number two from an edition of three, plus two artist's proofs
White Cube.
Acquired from the above in 2007.
Venice, LII Venice Biennale. British Pavilion, Tracey Emin Borrowed Light, 2007, p. 5 (another from the edition exhibited, study illustrated, p. 5).
Québec, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Emporte-moi. Sweep me off my feet, 2009-2010, p. 98 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 99). This exhibition later travelled to Vitry-sur-Seine, Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne.
Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, Triennial, 2023-2024 (another from the edition exhibited).
Further Details
Another from the edition is held in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

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Lot Essay

Spanning four and a half metres in height, Love Poem for CF (2007) is one of Tracey Emin’s largest and most important neon sculptures. With its message of heartbreak, lust and longing illuminated in dazzling pink, it is based on lines of poetry that she wrote for her ex-boyfriend Carl Freedman in the 1990s. These words of anguish and yearning became the subject of her first ever neon sculpture, which she unveiled in her breakthrough solo exhibition at the South London Gallery in 1997. Executed a decade later, the present work was conceived for her presentation Borrowed Light at the 2007 Venice Biennale: a landmark moment in her career, which saw her become the second ever female artist to represent Britain. With another from the edition held in the National Gallery of Victoria, the work remains an icon of Emin’s practice, capturing the raw, confessional candour of her voice and hand.

Emin and Freedman were together during the mid-1990s: the heyday of the Young British Artists, or YBAs. Freedman, now a successful gallerist, was working at the time as a writer and curator, and had collaborated with Damien Hirst on a number of his projects. Emin, a young art school graduate, was at the very beginning of her career, working in ‘The Shop’ that she shared with Sarah Lucas in East London. During these early years, Freedman became an ardent champion of her work. In 1994, they toured America together in a Cadillac, driving from San Francisco to New York with Emin stopping to give readings from her recently-published autobiography Exploration of the Soul. Back in England, they spent weekends together at her beach hut in Whitstable. In 1995, Freedman curated the exhibition Minky Manky at the South London Gallery, which would propel Emin into the public eye. Defiantly taking up his challenge to produce a large-scale work, she created her landmark fabric ‘tent’ Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, featuring the names of all her past lovers.

Emin’s neon sculptures came to form a vital outlet for her poetic sensibilities. The artist places writing at the core of her practice: indeed, it was as a wordsmith that she took her first steps into the art world, through the letter subscription series that she launched in 1992. Riddled with snapshots of her life, as well as reflections on themes of childhood, love and sex, these early fragments of correspondence brought her to the attention of dealers and critics. As a narrator, diarist, confessor and philosopher, Emin would come to use her interior monologue as the basis for much of her art, allowing it to infuse her embroideries, paintings and other works. Evocative of the fairground lights that populated her hometown of Margate during the 1970s, the neon sculptures are particularly notable for their transcription of the artist’s distinctive handwriting. Unlike Bruce Nauman, who used the medium as a means of neutralising language, Emin immortalises her own fluid, expressive scrawl. Each letter is wrought with the immediacy of drawing, as if ripped from the pages of her journal. The work emits an almost spiritual glow: an illuminated beacon onto the artist’s soul.

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